We humans love our “firsts”. The first experience will undoubtedly leave a deeper mark both physiologically, sending electrical currents through mysterious and unexplored neurological pathways, and psychologically, sometimes even creating new patterns of thinking.
We all remember our first kiss; that one time we got behind the wheel of a car for the first time; our first bike ride; coffee entered our taste buds for the first time. It’s a story of conflicting and flexible morality, karma and a very special trade deal. This is my story.
The year is 2001, and our main character is a high school student on his way to delve into the mysteries of the universe. He made the mistake of enrolling in nuclear physics studies at one of the toughest universities in the country. This guy was young and poor (and stupid, of course), and in his mind, megalomania and inferiority complexes often played a game of chess, both scoring points, and the final result was forever undecided. Then cell phones were just starting to appear. in his little country, and having one was a big deal. Not only were these devices hard to find, but they also cost a small fortune, with unreliable carrier service and SMS prices at almost a dollar apiece.
A hero of questionable morals
One day, this young future nuclear physicist was buying pizza in a small cafe near the university when he noticed a mobile phone on one of the tables. No one was around; the overworked, cute girl behind the counter is long gone. So he sat down in front of the phone and started eating his pizza, considering the options.
You can probably guess what happened next. The moral battle was lost, and the young (now less idealistic) boy went home with a Nokia 3210 in his pocket. In his defense, if he had returned the phone to the counter to put it in the lost and found section, it would have ended up in the cute girl’s lost and found pocket. Those were the times.
The phone was sleek and stylish in a cool pink color. To this day, the not-so-young boy thinks it was one of the best cell phones ever made. But the story does not end here. You might be tempted to think that the “trade” was something like what Robert Johnson did at the crossroads, trading his morals and soul for wealth and fame, or in this case, a piece of the future.
The above text may contain some symbolism; There’s no denying it, but the actual physical exchange took place a few months later. Before that, karma hit hard! The young man was in a local cafe where hard rock was playing and the mood was high. Then some shady looking guys appeared, wandered around a bit and left. A few hours later, the boy put on his leather jacket and discovered that the Nokia 3210 was missing from the inside pocket. Who left their jacket on the hanger with their phone in the 2000s? As silly as it is, that’s how it happened. The SIM card inside was pre-paid so no harm done and boy was it actually good. Although the phone probably never returned to the original owner, it was off his hands.
Our protagonist returned home relieved, only to receive a call the next day with a rather strange offer. He was part of a book club at the time, and his love of science fiction led to a rare and complete collection of science fiction books.
A young family and a sci-fi enthusiast bought a pair of mobile phones as engagement gifts from the same book club and traded in a used Motorola T180. For a bunch of books. The young boy’s entire sci-fi collection was gone, but now he had an honest phone. And apart from his ideals and morals (as he realized later), this collection of books was the most precious thing to him at that time.
Consequences and aftertastes
We all do things we regret later in life, and that’s what matters. “Regret”. This means that we have a conscience, and the bad feeling inside is our regulatory mechanism. If that young boy were in the same situation now, he would leave a note on the counter and keep what wasn’t his until the rightful owner was found.
Another thing is that wisdom can buy you happiness (or, more specifically, a good set of books can buy you a gadget that you think will make you happy). Years later, when I had accumulated enough resources to buy a new phone (a Sony Ericsson K750i), I gave a Motorola to a friend whose phone was stolen. I don’t know if this is enough to atone for the sins of my Nokia 3210, but I hope it helps.